Authorities Use Foreign Observers for Propaganda Purposes
State-run information agency BelTA lays open to public access various quotes from foreign citizens who support Alexander Lukashenka’s desire to change the Constitution. On September 22 BelTA’s official web-site presented the interview of Alexander Avetisyan, department director of CIS Executive Committee and CIS observer. According to BelTA, Avetisyan, Armenian national, gave the following statement about Alexander Lukashenka: “He has done a lot for his country, and has all grounds to again pretend to the highest state post”, However, Alexander Avetisyan told RFE/RL that the official media used him without his permission for propaganda purposes. Moreover, he claims he never said the words they attribute to him.
According to the Election Code, foreign citizens do not have the right to participate in campaigning. Central Election Commission secretary Mikalai Lazavik says he is “very puzzled” by the fact of a foreign national campaigning in the country.
However, Alexander Avetisyan states: “I didn’t say that. I said Lukashenka had done a lot for the country. Then they asked me: “What’s your attitude to the referendum?” I say: I have an ok attitude to the referendum, this is the internal state matter – they can hold a referendum if they want”.
On the question about the campaign in favor of referendum in official Belarusian mass media, Avetisyan said:
“Generally, I have a bad attitude to campaigns which are a game with one goal-mouth”.